I’m so thrilled to have Lev AC Rosen on the blog today! Lev is the author of the steampunk fantasy All Men of Genius, and was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions. Also up for grabs is a signed copy of All Men of Genius to one lucky winner, so be sure to check the details at the end of the post!
Please welcome Lev to the blog!
Lev, your degree is in creative writing, so I assume you always knew you wanted to be a writer. Can you tell us a bit about your brand new novel, All Men of Genius?
All Men of Genius is steampunk – if you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s a sort of retrofuturistic genre that takes place in the 1800s, but with technology more advanced than anyone had back then – like Frankenstein or Jekyll & Hyde. It’s also inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – but it’s not a mashup; at least 95% of the words are mine, but the plot devices and characters have their roots in these plays.
The plot is centered around Violet Adams, a brilliant young inventor in 1880s London who wants to go to Illyria, the premiere scientific college in the world. But it is male-only. So she takes on her brother’s identity and enters the school as a man. Of course, then things get really complicated, with love triangles and killer robots in the basement. Not to mention it is a school of mad scientists! I tried to make it funny and fun, but still literary, and I tried to make sure all the characters were really people. The world may be wacky and unreal, but I hope the people don’t feel that way.
You’re not new to getting published, as your short story “Painting” was featured in Esopus magazine when you were 22, but I can imagine finding out All Men of Genius would be published was exciting! How did you celebrate?
I don’t really celebrate. I’m too neurotic for that. I told myself I wouldn’t celebrate until I had a copy of the final book in hand, because there’s been movement on novels in the past that has fallen apart, so I try not to get my hopes up until I have proof that there will in fact be a published version of my book and it isn’t all going to go away again. I do actually have a few copies of the final produce now. I celebrate by smelling them. That probably sounds really creepy, but books smell good, and knowing the book is MY book makes it special.
My parents threw me a book launch party which was lovely, though so busy I feel like I barely remember it. I signed a lot of books that night.
In your bio, it says that All Men of Genius was influenced by Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. What were some other favorite authors or books when you were growing up?
Growing up? Wilkie Collins. Love him. He’s a Victorian Sensation Novelist. The Woman in White is my favorite. I dream of being able to write such a complex, twisty plot, and of being able to write an epistolary novel.
Any contemporary favorites?
Shriek, by Jeff Vandermeer – it’s been one of the greatest amazements of my life that the editor on that book is also my editor. Also The Bridge by Iain Banks. Wonderful and weird, both of them.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch. British Procedural-Paranormal. I’m enjoying it quite a bit. I think it has a different title in the US, but my folks brought this one back for me from a trip to London.
All Men of Genius has lots of Steampunk elements. Why do you think Steampunk has become so popular, and what most intrigues you about the genre?
I have a whole big piece on this on my website but the short version is I think it’s popular because people want to recapture the sense of wonder with technology again. Once upon a time – and I don’t just mean historically, but in our youths – everyone’s youth, I would imagine – we imagined hovercars and jetpacks and amazing robots, but now, technology is giving us stuff like that, and we’re ignoring it, or it just doesn’t seem that exciting. A man flew across the grand canyon via jetpack, it didn’t make the front page of the newspaper. I think that’s because we see a lot of testing now, via the internet and all the easy information we have, so things appear to happen much more gradually than they used to (there’s a little bit about this in my book) and I think also our technology is generally evolving in less flashy ways. Steampunk is flashy. Giant clockwork robots, crazy steampowered wings – these are big flashy things from a time when writers would look at science and say ‘wow, imagine what we could do next.’ That sort of wonder is gone, and I think people miss it. We understand so much that science doesn’t seem like magic anymore.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I walk a lot. Helps me write. I watch a lot of TV, which also, actually, helps me write. And I read, which helps me write. Sometimes I build forts for my stuffed animals.
If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
Edinburgh, I think. I love Edinburgh. Beautiful city. And I suspect the weather there is a lot cooler right now, which would be nice.
Is there any other news about upcoming projects or events you’d like to share?
Well, I’m in the midst of lining up some readings in NYC, CT and Philly. I’ll be reading in Oberlin, Ohio on November 8th, and I’ll be signing at NYC Comicon on October 16th, I think. As for projects I have a finished sequel to All Men of Genius, and a couple hundred pages of the one after that, but right now I’m working on a noir scifi novel and trying to sell some of my darker, magical realism stuff. You can always checkout my website for info on upcoming events.
1.Giveaway is for a *signed* copy of All Men of Genius to one winner.
**GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thanks so much for entering!**